Thursday, 20 September 2012

Jesus' 'Wife'?

Did Jesus have a wife? Over the last few days the story has been breaking of the discovery of an ancient text which makes reference to Jesus having a wife. This new manuscript (or more correctly, a fragment of a manuscript), now called The Gospel of Jesus' Wife, is supposed to include the words '...Jesus said to them, "My wife...'.

What are we to make of this discovery? The media, loving a sensational conspiracy, has billed it as proof that Jesus was in fact married, and that this casts doubt on the reliabiblity of the New Testament. However, the reality is that the discovery is far less sensational than the media would have us believe. The authenticity of this manuscript is still in question. Even if it was proved to be genuine it does not prove that Jesus was married, nor throw doubt on the Gospels, because it would have been written much later than the New Testament. It does not provide us with reliable historical information. In short, this discovery does not change much. All it tells us is that possibly some people at a much later stage claimed that Jesus was married. Lots of people have claimed all sorts of false things about Jesus down through the centuries. The fact that people have held to things that the Bible does not teach, does not lead to the Bible being proved unreliable.

A couple of helpful, and much more trustworthy, reports on the story have been written by Simon Gathercole at Tyndale House, and by Michael J. Kruger at the Gospel Coalition. You can read them by clicking on the links below.